Colon's shortest start hampers Twins' WC push

Colon's shortest start hampers Twins' WC push

KANSAS CITY -- Bartolo Colon picked a tough time to turn in his shortest outing of the season.

With the Twins looking to end their seven-game road trip on a positive note with a series victory against the Royals, Colon struggled, allowing six runs on six hits over 1 2/3 innings in an 11-3 loss Sunday. It was his worst start since joining the Twins in mid-July and his shortest since leaving due to injury after recording one out against the Royals on June 21, 2016.

"It's hard to be overly definitive why it went the way it did today," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We know the Royals have been swinging the bat well this week. Some of their guys were really hot. He was up in the zone a little bit more. They were aggressive with a lot of first-pitch damage."

It left the Twins with a 3-4 record on the trip through Tampa Bay and Kansas City, and their lead over the Angels for the second Wild Card spot is now just one game.

Colon, who had a 3.30 ERA over his last seven starts, wasn't fooling anybody in the second, allowing six hits, including three doubles. The Royals were aggressive against his fastball, as he mixed in only two changeups and a slider that inning with all six hits coming on fastballs.

"I don't know [if] there was much I could do," Colon said. "They were aggressive. They knew I was going to be around the zone. So credit to them for being aggressive and getting on top of it. They were good pitches and where I wanted them to be."

Colon said he didn't believe his command was much different than in his previous starts, but the Royals looked for fastballs early in the count, as none of their hits came on pitches in the middle of the plate outside of a fastball at the top of the zone to Whit Merrifield that was hit for a double. Brandon Moss' RBI double came on a fastball down and in, Alcides Escobar's two-run single came on a fastball up and in and Alex Gordon's double was on an outside fastball.

"There are good days and bad days," Colon said. "I felt amazing today and better than in previous starts. It just wasn't my day today."

The Twins have an off-day to regroup Monday, and then will decide whether Colon will start on normal rest Friday, or if they'll insert left-hander Adalberto Mejia in the rotation on Thursday or Friday and push him back to Saturday despite "Big Sexy Night" at Target Field on Friday.

"This thing is going to take a lot of turns," Molitor said. "That's the way it's going to be. You can't dwell too long. You just have to learn and take something from the game to be a better person, player or pitcher."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.